Henry Cole.

Fifty years of public work of Sir Henry Cole, K. C. B., accounted for in his deeds, speeches and writings online

. (page 14 of 40)
Online LibraryHenry ColeFifty years of public work of Sir Henry Cole, K. C. B., accounted for in his deeds, speeches and writings → online text (page 14 of 40)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

difficulties in these arrangements.

LVII. Prepayment should be compulsory on all parcels of a
certain weight and bulk. The Journal Post Office stamp, certify-
ing the posting, and obliterating the postage stamp, must not be
struck with much force, as it will chance to penetrate into a box
of pills or lozenges, and to crush and crack the contents of many
parcels. To produce an elastic stamp does not appear to be a
matter of much difficulty.


LVIII. The chief advantage of the stamped cover (and it is a Uniform
most important one), arises out of the facility it offers to the poor Postage.
man of getting a cheap piece of paper to write his letter on. In p^^j. Jjf '
remote and rural districts this will be a great boon, and will un- Selections.
doubtedly exercise some influence on the number of letters written, n^ncw of
a consequence valuable to both the revenue and the people. The cw'eS!''
stamped cover enables an advertiser to print his name upon it, and
thus secure its use to himself. The adhesive stamp has no such
peculiarity. Many witnesses described how circulars like the
specimen, would be used. These circulars would be transmitted
with a request that it should be returned through the post to the

LIX. The stamped covers being themselves free from liability to
forgery^ are a convenience to the public, which may be mentioned
in this place.

2. The Security from Forgery.

LX. Though there are various peculiarities attending the use of
the postage stamp, such as the small temptation which its low
intrinsic worth offers, the difficulties of utterance, and the ease of
detecting its forgery, still I would employ every mechanical diflfi-
culty which its necessary cheapness would admit of.

LXI. As respects the paper on which it is to be printed, there
seems to be strong evidence that a water-marked paper is the best
protection. Specimens of all kinds of paper for preventing the
forgery of bank notes, some of which I possess, were submitted to
the Commissioners for preventing the Forgery of Bank Notes ; but
they reported, " with respect to the paper we are of opinion that it
will not be advisable to make any alteration in that now used by
the Bank ; " in other words, they reported that the water-mark of
the bank note was the best protection. It is a fact, which I
believe will be confirmed by inquiry, that forged bank notes have
never been made on real water-marked paper. I venture, there-
fore, to submit to your lordships that a water-marked paper should
be used, both for the stamped covers and the adhesive stamps,
which I herewith transmit. Each cover and each stamp having
the words " Post Office " inserted as a water-mark. I am informed
that there are no mechanical difficulties to oppose this propo-



A.D, 1S39.
Part II.

LXII. Two kinds of paper for stamped covers were submitted
to the Parliamentary Committee on Postage — one by Mr. Dickin-
son, the other by Mr. Stevenson. The peculiarity of Mr. Dickin-
son's paper consisted of the insertion of straight lines of silk or
thread into the woof of the paper ; that of Mr. Stevenson in the
employment of some chemical agent, which prevents the obhtera-
tion of any writing upon it, and affords a ready means of testing
its genuine character. Mr. Dickinson's idea is an old one. I am
in possession of a specimen of paper manufactured many years ago
for a bank note, by a person of the name of Hayes, in which, not a
single thread, but a complete web, is thrown. There is no secrecy,
and, it would seem, no difficulty in making Mr. Dickinson's paper.
Mr. Magnay, a large Government paper contractor, says (Evidence
11,300) that the imitation of it, by various modes which he de-
scribes, " was as easy a thing to be done as could be." Imitations
of Mr. Dickinson's paper, deceptive to the touch and sight, maybe
made by ruling faint lines, or sticking sheets of paper together.

LXIII. As respects the handicraft difficulties of making Mr.
Dickinson's paper and a water-mark paper, I have not heard a
difference of opinion amongst papermakers, who unanimously
agree that the water-marked paper presents far greater difficulties
than Mr. Dickinson's paper.

LXIV. The act of making Mr. Dickinson's paper would become
an overt offence, if the Government should assume an exclusive
right to it ; but though no person could then legally manufacture
Mr. Dickinson's paper, any one whatever could, without the least
liability to suspicion, rule lines upon paper which would effectually
answer in many cases the purposes of forgery. On the other hand,
no one could make a water-marked paper but a papermaker who
united in his own person the abilities of a mould maker, a vat man,
a coucher, and a layer of paper. Assuming such a person to be
in existence, he could not insert the words " Post Office " in his
paper, without being conscious of the fraud intended. A forger of
Post Office stamps need have no accomplice in ruling lines on
paper, but must certainly have one or more to obtain a water-marked

LXV. The merit of Mr. Stevenson's paper consists in the
nature of its ingredients being unknown and kept secret. The
Commissioners for preventing the Forgery of Bank Notes, " con-


sidered that it would be utterly unsafe to rely for security against Uniform
forgery upon the employment of any process, the chief merit of Postagk.
which was to consist in its being kept secret " (First Report, p°' '^39-
page 3). However, should your lordships not concur with the Selections.
Commissioners, there seems to be no reason why the peculiarity
of Mr. Stevenson's paper, and that of a water-mark, should not
be united.

The Adhesive Stamp.

LXVI. I do not consider the security from forgery in this
specimen, to rest in any one of its peculiar features, but rather in
the combination of them all. The water-mark in the paper, the
design of the stamp, its compound printing, and the colours, all
these in union appear to me to be a sufficient protection. What-
ever number of these stamps may be printed on a single piece of
paper, I propose so to join one with the other as to prevent a
single stamp from being sufficient to print the whole sheet. If one
person attempted to forge this stamp by himself, he must possess
an unexampled assemblage of skill and knowledge, in order to
make his own paper — to cast and mould the plates, engrave the
design, and print it — or have recourse to the assistance of others,
to every one of whom the work itself would reveal the fraud.

LXVII. I have already enumerated the departments of the
paper making. In manufacturing the stamp, one person makes
the plates, another engine-turns it, a third engraves the lettering,
and a fourth prints it, every one of whom would be necessarily an

LXVIII. That a skilful imitation of one stamp could be pro-
duced by other means than those which would be required to pro-
duce numbers, is not at all disputed. But to print numbers profit-
ably, plates like the original must be employed ; and I have reason
to believe, that, excepting the recent patentee of compound plates,
from whom the specimen has been procured, Mr. Robert Branston,
son of the partner of Sir William Congreve, and one or two others,
the most eminent engravers in London, there are no other persons
throughout the whole kingdom who are as yet accustomed to such
work. Plates for one impression would only serve for single im-
pressions. The cost of plates for one impression is about ;^io. To
make two impressions on the same paper, two more plates would
be requisite, three for three, four for four, &c.



A.D. 1839.
Part II.

LXIX. Compound printing gives a protection against litho-
graphic or zincographic imitations, because, though a design may
be most accurately transferred to stone or zinc, it can only be
printed in one colour. Precision and rapidity in working compound
plates, can only be attained by very peculiar machines, worth from
;2^3oo to ;£^Soo apiece. The Government at the Stamp and Excise
Offices, are already in possession of machines of this sort. There
are none others in the whole kingdom, except at Beaufort House.
The colours, blue and red, are selected because either one destroys
the other by accidentally overlaying it, an effect very likely to
follow in any clumsy imitation. The only objection to this stamp
is its size ; and I had hoped to have laid before your lordships
specimens of another stamp only one-fourth of the size of this
specimen, but there has been an unavoidable delay in its prepara-
tion, and I am unwilling any longer, on the chance of succeeding
with the stamp in projection, to postpone the delivery of this
statement. Should the stamp be effected in time, and seem to me
worthy of your lordships' notice, I shall claim the indulgence of
transmitting it.

LXX. Should the objection of size prevail with your lordships,
I still have reason to hope that a stamp on the principle of com-
pound printing, much smaller than the present specimen, though
not equally secure from forgery, but sufficiently so for its purpose,
may be accomplished.

LXXI. For the sake of simplicity, and to reduce the temptation
to forgery, I propose that adhesive stamps of only one sort and one
price should be used.

The Stamped Cover.

LXXII. The very low price at which the stamped cover may be
sold, affords a perfect security from forgery. The accompanying
specimen was prepared for the Mercantile Committee on Postage.
Messrs. Sylvester, engravers, in the Strand, who supply many
country bankers with their notes, report to me that they are unable
to get a plate engine-turned precisely in the same manner.

LXXIII. Mr. Bacon, a high authority on such points, of the
firm of Perkins, Bacon, and Fetch, of Fleet Street, informs me that
he thinks the work is sufficient to protect a penny stamp ; but Mr.
Robert Branston tells me that he can produce such patterns from


his engine, though he did not favour me with the sight of any. Mr. Uniform
John Thompson, admitted to be (at this time, 1840,) the first wood- Postage.
engraver in the world, and for some years employed by the Bank p^^rtii^'"
in the prevention of forgeries, thinks that though part of the Selections.
pattern might be imitated on wood by the hand, there are other
parts upon which he is doubtful whether they could be success-
fully done. These inquiries seem to be conclusive of the merits of
this stamp, as far as engine-turning is concerned. It is obvious
that the larger the space covered by engine-turning of various
kinds, the more difficult the imitation is rendered. I should,
therefore, propose that, with the adoption of patterns similar to
the. specimen, others should be introduced to cover the whole
surface, in which case, in order not to conceal the water-mark,
I think the centre ought to be left blank. Some engine-turners
uphold that an engine-turned pattern which is the result of
chance, so that he who executed it could not reproduce it, is
a better protection against forgery than patterns like those of
the specimen. The objection to chance patterns is their want
of distinctness; and though an engine-turner may not be able
to produce a perfect facsimile, yet he may so nearly approach
it that the want of distinctness confounds the two together.
Besides, though perhaps safe against the engine-turner, it is less
so against the wood-engraver arid the lithographer, it seems de-
sirable that the use of the stamped cover should be limited to
letters of the lowest gradation in weight, both for the conve-
nience of the postmasters, and for security from forgery. There
would be no objection to using papers of different value, all
having the water-mark ; so that if one person did not like an
envelope at is. 4d. he might go to the price of is. 2d.^

3. The Facility of being Checked and Distinguished in the
Examination at the Post Office.

LXXIV. Should both stamped covers and adhesive stamps be
used, though a different sort of stamp will be required for each, the
postmasters and letter sorters will have to acquaint themselves with
only these two kinds of stamps, and their peculiarities will be

' After full consideration it was re- experiments, was eventually printed
solved to have a work of fine art pre- from the design of Mr. Mulready, R. A.
pared, and the envelope, after several (See vol. i., p. 64.)



A.D. 1839.
Part II.

sufficiently obvious at a glance. For example — in the adhesive
stamp, the accurate intersections of the work upon the two colours ;
in the stamped cover, the reversed epycycloidal patterns, &c. The
water-mark in the adhesive stamp, though a guide to the public in
purchasing them, will be none to the postmaster, as it becomes
hidden by the stamp being affixed to a letter. The water-mark of
the stamped cover, will, however, remain visible. The limitation
of stamped covers will dispense with a good deal of weighing. All
letters above the lowest gradation of weight, should be franked by
the adhesive stamp, not, however, to the exclusion of the lowest
being franked — one stamp for each gradation, which seems to be
the simplest sign that can be used. When attaching more adhe-
sive stamps than one, it should be a rule to the public not to dis-
sever them from one another, in order that it may be seen they
were printed from more than one stamp, and, therefore, most
probably genuine.

of tne pro-
duction and
of the
Estimate of
cost of adhe-
sive stamps
per j,ooo.

Price of
includes the
cost of

Mr. Hill's
estimate of
the cost of
labels per

Machines for
plates at
present ex-

4. Expense of the Production and Circulation of the Stamps.
LXXV. Estimate of the cost of adhesive stamps per 1,000 stamps.

Printing .......

Paper (a water in each stamp), say
Circulation through the post, as estimated by

Mr. Hill

Glutinous wash ......

Expenses for making up parcels, &c.

The price of printing includes the cost of producing the plates
and keeping them in order.

LXXVI. Mr. Hill has estimated that 1,000 labels, a trifle less
than the specimen, would cost T,\d., which would be nearly the
price, if the machines for printing compound plates could print
sheets double the size they are able to do. The machines at pre-
sent existing, can only print, as I am informed, sheets whose dimen-
sions do not exceed fifteen inches by seven and a half. Conse-
quently, with a stamp an inch square, or about the size of the










specimen, not more than sixty stamps could be printed on a sheet uniform
at one revolution of the cylinder of the machine. The price of |o"ta^oe.
printing is fixed on so much per 1,000 revolutions made by the a°- '839-
machine. In case the Stamp Office should be unable to print SeUciions.
these stamps, I am informed that the proprietor of the only other ^'?". °^
machines which can print them, would be willing to enter into a estimated

° on the num-

contract, nndmg the plates, and keepmg them in order, to print at terofrevo-

. *■ lutions made

the rate of 30X. per 1,000 sheets. The price per sheet is not much by the ma-
affected by the number of stamps to be printed on one sheet.

Consequently, should your lordships prefer a smaller stamp, of sheet lit'ie

which a sheet would hold 120 or 240 in number, the price ot the'number

printing would be reduced accordingly. These machines print some- Lch^"'^ ™

thing above 700 sheets per hour; the machine working ten hours st^pfpro-

a day, with sixty stamps on a sheet, would produce in that time fess'cist^'

420,000 stamps, and 126,000,000 in a year of 300 days; or, with Se'sped-"'

240 stamps on a sheet, 504,000,000 in a year. The application Estimate of

of the glutinous wash can be easily and speedily done. Perhaps, rion''o?one"

as the stamps would be liable to some moisture in their distribu- "o^w^^ 10

tion, which might cause them to stick together, it might be de- a " nitio?'

sirable to leave that operation to be done by the post offices and "f thegiuti-

* ^ *■ nous wash.

the licensed, vendors.

Estimate of the Cost of Stamped Covers per 1,000. Estimate of

the cost of

LXXVII. The cost of engraving the original plate would be in mJ^re per
proportion to the character of the engine-turning upon it. Allow
fifty guineas. When done, an unlimited number of stereotypes
might be cast from it, not exceeding ten shillings a cast.

The number of covers which could be printed at one revolution
of the machine, determines the cost of printing. At Beaufort
House printing-office, where probably the greatest amount of
printing engine-turned plates by the letter-press process, is done in
the whole kingdom, it is thought that as many as sixteen plates
may be printed at one time.

Good machine printing of books may be done at 10s. per 1,000
sheets for long numbers. But as greater care and larger machinery
are required to work engine-turned plates, sixteen shillings per
1,000 sheets, or for first 1,000 covers, would be a very fair







A.D. 1839.

Part II.


Cost of
covers per

Per I












Printing covers, per 1,000 . . . . .

Paper for covers per 1,000, each containing a
water-mark '......

Packing per 1,000 ......

For average carriage per 1,000 covers to the dis-
tributors, allow ......

Add 1,000 pence for the postage, add two per cent- as allowance
to the distributor, and the 1,000 stamped covers would be sold by
the distributor to the licensed vendor, for jQ/^ ws. o\d.

LXXVIII. The price of a stamped cover to the public might
then be left to be regulated by competition. A stamped cover sold
for \\d. (the lowest price) by the licensed vendor to the public,
would bring him a profit of about fourteen per cent.

LXXIX. This proposal somewhat varies from that of Mr. Hill,
who thinks it unnecessary to require the stamp distributors to keep
the covers. I think they should be so required and that their poundage
should be fixed. As in Mr. Hill's proposal, so according to this
statement, the Government need be at no cost whatever for col-
lecting the postage revenue by means of stamped covers.

to adhesive
stamps and
covers an-

Objections to Adhesive Stamps and Stamped Covers

LXXX. The subject of stamps would be left incomplete if the
objections so publicly and pertinaciously urged against both kinds
of them, were left unanswered. And though I cannot believe that
these objections have made any deep impression on your lord-
ships' minds, it seems to me that some notice should be taken of
them. Mr. Dickinson, who aims at furnishing a certain descrip-
tion of paper for the stamped covers, which will require a great
deal of it, opposes adhesive stamps, which will require a very little
of it. The papermakers, who like to regulate their own prices for

Viz., 1 8 a penny being the mean of an estimate given by M, Magnay.


paper, war against stamped covers, which will be sold as a very uniform
cheap paper, beyond their power of controlling the price. postage.

With your lordships' leave, I will first reply to Mr. Dickinson. ■*•"• '839-
" It has been proposed," writes this gentleman, " that if the writer Selections,
of a letter were by accident not supplied with a stamp or label, the ^^^a^™''
postmaster might be required, on payment of the postage, to paste j'c'iois-
on a post ofSce label, of which he would always be required to
keep a stock ;" and to this imaginary proposition, conceived only
by Mr. Dickinson, his "serious objection'" is, " that the postmaster
might take the money and not affix the stamp or forward the letter.''
It has never been proposed that " the postmaster should be required
to paste on the label." The sender of the letter would pay the
postage and receive back the label from the postmaster, which
the sender himself would affix to the letter. Mr. Dickinson again
says, " The friction in carriage and the disfigurement arising from
the journal stamp, would prevent the effectual discrimination of
their genuineness ;" but he forgets that before the " friction in car-
riage " and the " disfigurement " had taken place, " the effectual
discrimination of their genuineness " would have been made. The
postmaster would not place the journal stamp, and thereby dis-
figure the adhesive stamp, until it had appeared to him to be
genuine. Mr. Dickinson further says, " But the main objection to
these labels is the facility of their forgery," and thus condemns
his own paper, because at one time it was proposed to use it for
adhesive stamps. Now a small piece of Mr. Dickinson's paper
would exhibit its genuineness as well as a large piece. I think I
have already shown that there is little danger of forgery (see p. 1 18)
in the adhesive stamps. "That country shopkeepers and post-
masters would obtain their supplies from illicit sources," and that
" the revenue would be defrauded by spurious stamps, without
the chance of discovering the fraud," are allegations made by
Mr. Dickinson which, I believe, I have anticipated and answered.
But, again, he says: "The Stamp Office allowance, added to the
cost of stamps, Avould be a charge on the revenue of not much
less than five per cent, average, or nearly ;^5o,ooo per annum."
This estimate is given on the assumption that the adhesive stamps
will be used to the exclusion of all others, an assumption in defi-
ance of fact. makers' ob-

LXXXI. The papermakers object to stamped covers upon pri- iSm^d'°



A.D. 1839.
Part 11.

vate grounds, because " it creates a monopoly, and gives to one
individual, or a limited number of individuals, an unfair advantage
over their competitors in trade.'' A monopoly is an advantage to
one party at the expense of another party. When stamped covers
are bestowed upon the public for posting their letters in, they are
not taken from the papermakers or stationers, because these
covers are, almost for the first time, called into being for such a
purpose. The papermakers hereby actually presume to make a
request to the Government that it should abstain from doing
something beneficial to the pubHc, which request, if made to any
one of their own body, would be jeered at. If Sir James Williams
or Mr. Gubbins proposed to sell half-sheets of paper to the public
at the rate of twelve or fifteen for a penny (and this is the part of
the proposition of stamped covers which constitutes the odious
" monopoly "), would Mr. Charles Pearson head a deputation to
them, and beseech them not "to create such a monopoly?" Sir
James Williams and Mr. Gubbins would answer, "If you are
afraid of my making cheap letter paper for the public, I advise you
to protect the public from what you call a ' monopoly,' which you
can do, if you please, by making a paper cheaper than ours." The
papermakers and stationers have long enjoyed "the monopoly" of
charging the poor man a penny for each single sheet of paper, and
they see the downfall of their " monopoly " in the stamped cover,
which the poor man will buy for a farthing — hence their alarm. I
venture to hope that your lordships will intimate to the paper-
makers who so earnestly oppose this "monopoly,'' that they
already have full power to destroy it, by selling half-sheets of
paper lower than the stamped covers. There is nothing to prevent
them from selling the poor man a whole sheet or two or three half-
sheets for a farthing, and thus upset the " monopoly." The poor
man's letter of a whole sheet, with an adhesive stamp, will then be
cheaper and more tempting to him than a stamped cover.'

LXXXII. The outcry about "unfair advantage over their
competitors in trade,'' can be silenced at once by throwing open
the contract for the stamped cover paper to the whole trade.

' The absurdity of these fears of
monopoly is shown by the facts now
existing. I have before me a packet
of ' ' Superior Cream-laid Note Paper, "
called the " one pound packet, 6|rf. " .'

Online LibraryHenry ColeFifty years of public work of Sir Henry Cole, K. C. B., accounted for in his deeds, speeches and writings → online text (page 14 of 40)